... in listening

Published on 22 Apr 2021
An older man sitting by a lake

As I am getting old, I now wear hearing aids to help me hear. 

The immediate effect is quite wonderful. Everything sounds so much clearer! In a one-to–one situation I can hear and communicate just as before. However, in a crowded situation the microphones dutifully magnify any and every sound they pick up. The result is a wall of sound from which one person’s voice is indistinguishable from another. Sometimes with all the noise around it is tempting to take the hearing aids out and enjoy the silence once again. After all, as the Trappist, Thomas Merton recognised: ‘silence makes us whole if we let it.  Silence helps draw together the scattered and dissipated energies of a fragmented existence.’

Everyday life is full of noise; the passing traffic, the commuter train, the office quarrels, the non-stop TV newsreels, children screaming for attention. Often we feel like clamping our hands over our ears and shouting “Just be quiet will you! I can’t think with all this noise, let alone pray!” Yet it is essential that we find a still place where we can speak with God one-to-one. Prayer is after all a conversation and in any meaningful conversation there must be a time of silence; a time to listen. Unless we listen, how will we know what comfort God has to offer us in our times of distress, what encouragement in our times of difficulty, what mission He has for us? Ah, is that why we prefer not to listen? Are we afraid of what God will ask of us?   If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. Matthew 16:24. And we all know where that led!  Yet if we do not listen we will not hear Him say “I love you. I will never leave you or forsake you.” How wonderful is that? However hard the journey, whatever task God has for us He will walk with us, we are not alone.

Seven times in the New Testament God says ‘He that hath an ear let him hear.’ No mention of hearing aids since we do not need them to listen to the small still voice of God.